Shalom Life | September 24, 2015

Israeli Students Leave Memorial Honoring Fallen Soldiers Due to "Hostile" Bob Dylan Song

Oranim Academic College students were outraged after Dylan's "Masters of War" was quoted during a Yom HaZikaron ceremony

By: Sy Berg

Published: April 22nd, 2015 in Culture » Music » News

Photo: Bob Dylan


As Bob Dylan's musical lyrics are also poetry, they are always open to interpretation, and oft satirical and pacifist, including the classic "Master's of War," which Dylan wrote during the 1960's about the Cold War. In a 2001 interview with USA Today, Dlyan affirmed that it's not an anti-war song, but speaks "against what Eisenhower was calling a military-industrial complex as he was making his exit from the presidency. That spirit was in the air, and I picked it up."

An excerpt from the song can be found below - the same excerpt that was quoted last night during a Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) ceremony at Oranim Academic College in Northern Israel, by the head of the local student union. Following his reading of the lyrics, students left the memorial, outraged, claiming that it called for the murder of more Israeli soldiers:

"And I hope that you die

And your death'll come soon

I will follow your casket

In the pale afternoon

And I'll watch while you're lowered

Down to your deathbed

And I'll stand over your grave

'Til I'm sure that you're dead."

"It is an embarrassment and shameful that the stage was given to this kind of hostile song on the holiest day during which we remember our soldiers, the heroes, who gave their souls for the homeland so that you could sleep quietly at night," said one angered student, Liat, who expressed her disbelief via the college's Facebook page.

Other students chimed in, saying the lyrics called "for the death of generals" and that it "lacked respect for those who in their death gave us life."

"I'm ashamed to be a part of this," added one student.

While Dylan has reportedly clarified that he was being pacifistic in his lyrics, calling for the end of the war, and that the song is about those profiting from war, and not the soldiers, it's understandable as to why the students became upset on a day as somber and reflective as Yom HaZikaron.

The college's student union has since sent out a response, saying that "The song clearly represents an anti-war stance and does not call for violence, partisanship or incitement."

The union added that the "song expresses the feelings of large sections of Israeli society and in general is legitimate and should not be interpreted in a way that could be seen as hostile, violent or provocation for provocation's sake or even as an anti-establishment statement."

As many students have called for the Israeli government to stop funding to Oranim, they may eventually realize that this was likely all an unfortunate misunderstanding.

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